Intelligent Multi-Sensing Structural Health Monitoring Infrastructure

Period of Performance: 09/20/2003 - 09/20/2004


Phase 1 STTR

Recipient Firm

Metis Design Corp.
205 Portland St Array
Boston, MA 02114
Principal Investigator

Research Institution

Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts ave
Cambridge, MA 02139
Institution POC


Structural health monitoring (SHM) is an emerging technology leading to the development of systems capable of continuously monitoring structures for damage, with minimal human intervention. There are several components required to design a successful SHM system, including sensors, communication and power systems. Current SHM efforts have focused mainly on sensing methods for damage detection, however the infrastructure needed to employ these methods has not been sufficiently addressed. In response to this STIR solicitation for wireless SHM sensor technology, Metis Design, with the help of MicroStrain, MIT, and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Hill AFB, plan to develop of each appropriate component to meet SHM system requirements, and integrate them into an operational prototype. During previous research at MDC, optimal piezoelectric sensors were developed, and wave-scans were performed to detect damage in several composite geometries. The work plan for this Phase I work leverages these results to define a system architecture, develop wireless chips and thin-film batteries, and integrate each of these components. The AFRL will assist in delineating system requirements and facilitating the final proof testing. As part of a Phase II effort, the capabilities of each component will be enhanced, moving towards a device that could be commercialized. One of the key factors to the marketability of a SHM system is its versatility; the ability not only to be integrated into new applications but to be retrofitted into an existing system with little work. Airlines that chose to use these systems would be able to reduce the number and time of required inspections (SHM systems fall within the provisions of current FAA directives), giving them the opportunity to capture profit due to more up-time. Another important aerospace market would be for expendable launch vehicles (ELV) to facilitate launch/no-launch decisions, due to damage sustained during vehicle assembly or sitting on the pad. Of probably greatest importance, SHM systems will be a key technology for reusable launch vehicles for quick turn around times, to avoid lengthy tear down inspections.